While layoffs have been a recurring phenomenon in the corporate world, the resurgence in these occurrences since 2022 has brought it to the forefront of discussions. What began as a cost-cutting measure, initially targeting predominantly tech talent, has now progressively impacted nearly all departments within companies, notably including the recruitment teams.
HR departments, already vulnerable to layoff pressures, economic downturns, the emergence of generative AI, and significant workplace disruptions, are now further strained due to their roles being under scrutiny. Curious about which companies have had to let go of their own hiring teams? We have curated a list for your perusal.
Companies that laid off HRs:
In March, Airbnb, the leading online hospitality firm, terminated 30 per cent of its hiring team despite the company having reported its first profitable year in 2022. The company had a total of 6,800 employees, so the cuts affected 0.4 per cent of the total. The company aimed to hire more people in that year.
An Airbnb spokesperson informed Bloomberg, “We became a leaner and more focused company over the last three years. The company expected to grow its headcount that year." Due to the pandemic, Airbnb had fired 1,900 employees or 25 per cent of its staff.
For the fourth quarter that concluded on December 31, Airbnb reported a revenue increase of 24 per cent. Additionally, it had posted a net income of $319 million for the quarter, up from $55 million in the same period last year.
In April, Amazon initiated layoffs within its human resources divisions. Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky and human resources head Beth Galetti sent notes to staffers in the U.S., Canada, and Costa Rica, informing them of the job cuts. “It was a tough day across our organization,” Selipsky wrote in the memo.
The layoffs were part of the previously announced job cuts that were expected to affect 9,000 employees. The week before, Amazon had laid off some employees in its advertising unit, and it had let go of staffers in its video games and Twitch livestreaming units in recent weeks. Amazon concluded a separate round of cuts earlier this year that had affected approximately 18,000 employees. Combined with the cuts that month, it marked the largest layoffs in Amazon’s 29-year history.
According to a Reuters report, Boeing cut 2,000 jobs in its finance and human resources (HR) departments through a combination of attrition and layoffs. However, despite approximately 2,000 employees receiving pink slips, some new hires were expected. In response, Boeing confirmed that it had outsourced about one-third of these jobs to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India.
Emphasising its ongoing efforts to streamline its corporate structure, the company mentioned its intent to “lower staffing within some support functions.” The previous year, Boeing layoffs were expected to impact approximately 150 people in the finance department. The Reuters report added that during the announcement, the company had clarified that these layoffs would occur in the United States as part of their strategy to simplify their corporate structure and redirect more resources towards manufacturing and product development.
Alphabet had announced its decision to terminate employees from its global recruiting team in September. However, the tech giant also stated that the decision to let go of 'a few hundred' employees was not 'part of a wide-scale layoff'. Alphabet had also mentioned that it would 'retain a significant majority of the team for hiring critical roles'. Hence, the entire team had not been affected by the layoffs. In addition to this, the company had also offered assistance to the impacted employees in finding other roles 'within the company and elsewhere'.
5. IBM’s Kyndryl
In April, Kyndryl, the IBM spinoff, conducted layoffs while also announcing a 2-month pay in severance for the affected employees. According to a report by Business Today, “We were informed of the layoffs Wednesday morning (March 29). By evening we had to clear all dues and put in the papers. The company is offering 2- month severance.”
These layoffs were not confined to India. The company spokesperson had stated last week, “We eliminated some roles globally – a small percentage – to become more efficient and competitive. This was in addition to the ongoing transformation work we had undertaken to streamline and simplify our processes and systems.”
Kyndryl maintained a workforce of approximately 90,000 employees across its global operations. Approximately 50 per cent of this global workforce was based in India. Another source revealed that the majority of layoffs occurred in marketing, administration, Human Resources, and other non-core verticals. “Most impacted were non-core roles like marketing, admin, HR and all,” highlighted a source.
Kyndryl spun off from IBM in November 2021. For the quarter ending on December 31, 2022, the company reported revenues of $4.3 billion, reflecting a YoY decline of 6 per cent. Additionally, they reported a pre-tax loss of $138 million and a net loss of $106 million.
In February, the job-providing platform LinkedIn initiated layoffs within its recruiting team, aligning with the widespread trend of job cuts aimed at controlling costs amidst an imminent global economic downturn. As a significant part of this layoff, the professional networking and recruiting platform owned by Microsoft specifically targeted employees in its recruiting team. However, the precise number of affected staff remains undisclosed.
The job cuts made by LinkedIn were likely a component of Microsoft's overarching plan to reduce its workforce by approximately 10,000 jobs spanning various divisions. A Bloomberg report revealed that Microsoft had terminated over 600 employees based in its Seattle office within hardware divisions, including HoloLens, Surface, and Xbox teams, as part of a broader restructuring strategy. On February 13, The Information published a report announcing the layoff of employees within the recruitment department of LinkedIn.
In March, when Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the second round of layoffs, he also specified the company's intention to reduce the size of its recruiting team. Two days later, social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn, saw posts from several now-former HR employees announcing their layoff and seeking assistance for new job opportunities. Suly Kamara from the UK was transparent about the number of employees he had brought on board at Meta before being laid off.
"I had 8+ years of experience in technical recruiting, and at Meta, I was responsible for hiring. To be honest, I was flexing all the time, so the list could be long," he wrote on LinkedIn. Following that, senior technical recruiter Gyorgy K from Dallas woke up to news of his layoff. "This morning, I woke up to an unfortunate email letting me know that I was part of Meta's second round of layoffs... After the initial shock, I found myself reflecting over the past twelve months," he wrote on LinkedIn. "Life is all about growth and new opportunities, and I am grateful for all the skills I developed through Meta. I am excited to take on the next challenge!"
Roblox, the kid-popular community-centric gaming platform, witnessed a significant reduction in its talent acquisition team, marking a shift in the company's priorities from growth to profitability. In an official statement, Roblox confirmed that it had recently laid off approximately 30 employees within its talent acquisition division. The company stressed that no other teams within the organisation were affected by these staff reductions. “A heavier investment in our TA organisation was required due to the aggressive growth targets Roblox was operating against in the past few years,” said a Roblox spokesperson.
“With our commitment to aligning our cash compensation growth with our bookings growth by the end of Q1 2024, we now needed a smaller Talent Acquisition organisation to meet our adjusted hiring needs. This action resulted from the reduction in our hiring targets to better align with our growth goals,” the spokesperson added. There were indications that the deceleration in hiring was a planned move as part of Roblox's ongoing cost-cutting efforts. This was evident from the statements made by the company's Chief Financial Officer, Michael Guthrie, during the recent Q2 earnings call, where he stated:
"We anticipated achieving cost efficiencies across various areas in the coming 12 months. We expected to realize some cost reduction in cost of goods sold due to our reduced hiring pace, as well as cost efficiencies in our compensation expenses, particularly in infrastructure and trust and safety. We had already made significant progress in bridging the gap in both of these areas." Over the past few years, the company had experienced a good period of robust growth, nearly tripling its daily active user base from Q1 2020 to 66 million at the beginning of this year. However, as its business expanded, it started allocating more resources to compensate developers.
In July, the renowned venture capital firm, Sequoia, executed layoffs within its operations team, affecting seven employees. The decision, which impacted approximately one-third of the firm's talent pool assisting in recruiting for startups in its portfolio, was confirmed by Sequoia's Chief Operating Officer, Sumaiya Balabale. This move followed the departure of Jaime Bott in April, who had served as the head of the talent team for twelve years.
According to two sources, the layoffs at Sequoia were part of a broader trend among venture capitalists, reflecting the industry's boom that ended in early 2022. As the market downturn persisted, Sequoia was not the only firm scaling back its previous expansions.
The hiring crew at Uber witnessed layoffs in June, with a reshuffling in the crew of the well-known taxi service. Approximately 200 recruiters faced a decrease in their positions. A memo explaining this decision was circulated across the office. Due to the prevailing economic climate, Uber opted for this measure to save costs. The Wall Street Journal reported that 35% of Uber's recruitment staff would be let go due to these cuts.
However, these layoffs affected fewer than 1 per cent of Uber's total workforce. The corporation had already reduced its recruitment staff following smaller rounds of job losses in various divisions. Uber had been implementing layoffs throughout the year, particularly in its freight division and international food delivery business. Combining these previous layoffs with the latest round, they amounted to less than 3% of Uber's entire staff. Uber currently employs over 32,000 people worldwide, and it's important to note that Uber drivers are not classified as company employees.
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